Saratoga Springs police, firefighters train together to prepare for worst-case scenarios

October 01, 2019 07:56 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The call can be heard over the police and firefighters' portable radios: "Respond to the area of Excelsior, the Olde Saratoga Brewery for an explosion.

Responding police know little else other than there's been an explosion with multiple injuries. Not sure if the emergency is the result of bad guys with bombs, they enter with guns drawn and confront the people inside.


"Let me see your hands," shouts an officer to two men who are walking toward them and complaining of being injured.

Police are learning that the explosion was an accident, but still are not sure in the dark and smoky warehouse, that there's not an active shooter. So they proceed with an abundance of caution, escorting the firefighters to the victims.

The chaotic scene plays out for several minutes, until all the injured are carried or dragged to a safe location.

When it's over, police and firefighters discuss what they learned during the training and how they can work better together.

"Their job is to stop the killing, our job is to stop the dying. If we work together, we're going to have the best possible outcome," said Lt. Tim Thomas of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department.

There was a time when these training sessions only involved police, but police Sgt. Paul Veitch says in a post-Virginia Tech and post-Las Vegas world, it's become critical for police and firefighters to work hand-in-hand.

"The lessons learned over a lot of things, especially Virginia Tech, was cops need to be cops, they're not medics. And medics need to be medics," said Veitch. "We need to be able to get them in and out faster. That's the best way to save lives is to have them do their job, we do our job."

The training continues this week with several other scenarios.

Local police and firefighters say they're always aware of where they work and the number of popular public venues they're charged with keeping safe.


Mark Mulholland

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